Jeremy Pena has become the biggest name in Houston sports for 2022.
The rookie came into the season with a lot of expectations put on his shoulders. Questions of whether he could “replace” Carlos Correa or even match him in the postseason. One of Correa’s biggest strengths was his clutch hitting when the Astros needed it most. Well Pena has been quite effective in his starting role in the two hole I might add.
The Houston Astros are moving on to their sixth straight ALCS in large part to Mr. Pena. The Astros marathon ALDS Game 3 was an all-out dog fight, and I will address that towards the end of this article. Coming into Seattle you had two games were the Mariners for all tense and purposes should have been victorious. If not both games at least a split, but the Astros did not give up in either game. They looked to Yordan Alvarez and the afore mentioned rookie Jeremy Pena.
This lineup boasts Jose Altuve who is the player that has collected the most hits of any MLB player since he came into the league in 2011. This King of Htown did not record a single hit in the ALDS, yet it was his glove that helped the team.
You would think in a series sweep the two words that played a role offensively speaking would be Jose Altuve. Not this time around. I am not concerned as many may be regarding Jose’s offensive absence because the pitching staff drives this team. I would venture to say the bullpen has held the line across the board more consistently than the starters this postseason.
The starters have not been terrible but in Games 1 and 2 Justin Verlander (who after the series win said, he was still working on mechanics and thinks the days leading up to the ALCS will give him time to get right) and Framber did give up runs to put the Mariners in the lead.
Even with that this team has fight, they do not give up, and this 2022 team IS DIFFERENT. In 2021 this team would not have overcome these deficits, and it is evident in 2022 we are watching something special. This is the best Astros playoff team ever assembled.
Yes, without Springer, and Correa, top to bottom hitting and pitching they are complete. They are confident, they are aware of each situation. There is however one thing I would like to see change in the ALCS.
Altuve had lost sight of who he has become, he looked pressed, worried, I am sure tired, but the moment did not shine brightly on him. You can be assured that this staff will leave no stone unturned to make sure we see the Altuve we have all grown to love. The one who hits walk-offs in the playoffs and simply gets on base. He will contribute in the ALCS. So will the rest of this offense. The road is shorter, but it still requires eight more wins.
I cannot exit this file without mentioning who in particular did an amazing job for this team in Game 3. The Astros has a starter begin the game (Lance McCullers Jr.), while another starter (Luis Garcia) finished the game off and got the win.
First Starter: Lance McCullers Jr. 6 IP 2 H, 2 BB, 7K
Second Starter: Luis Garcia 5 IP, 2H, 0 BB, 6K
Bullpen (Neris, Montero, Pressly, Abreu, Stanek, and Brown) Combined for: 7 IP 3H, 1 BB, 9K
This pitching performance has to go down as one of the best in postseason history. Not only did the veterans come through, but Hunter Brown who was the only relief pitcher to throw for two innings.
During the All-Star break, Brown was named to the MLB Futures Team to compete against the leagues best young talent. The day after I had the privilege to speak to Brown at Constellation Field.
We were talking about his season, and how he was feeling. I congratulated him on making the futures game. He said thank you……then he looked at me and said this. “While I appreciate the nod and recognition all I really want is to be at Minute Maid Park helping the Astros win another World Series. That is the ultimate goal.”
I knew then that this kid was going to be special. I responded, “Our audience for Locked on Astros sees you on this playoff roster.” He responded, “I really hope the Astros see that as well.” This story is only beginning, and I believe for years to come he will be a household name in Houston Sports history.
Always Positive, Always Stros.
Brett Chancey is the co-host of the Locked on Astros Podcast. He can be followed on Twitter/Instagram @htownwheelhosue or @stros411 on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook.